A Travellerspoint blog


san jose, panama city

sunny 33 °C

hello everyone....right sorry i haven't blogged for so long! first a brief round-up of what happened after managua:

we went to San Jose in Costa Rica, was very nice, but quite expensive and americanised. I decided to be cultured for a day, and visited the columbian gold museum which was very interesting and also had a fantastic exhibition about the use of animals in art which had some amazing sculpture.

stayed in San Jose a few days, then got the tica bus to Panama City - a wonderfully fun 16 hours on a bus, arriving at 5am into Panama City. luckily we managed to get into a hostel, Zuly's Backpackers, which was a pretty friendly place, lots of nice people.

we visited the canal at Miraflores Locks - most of the people we were with had never seen a canal before, and had no idea what locks were....but it was a fun day, we saw a cruise ship go through and also a huge cargo ship, the largest that can actually pass through which was lucky, you dont get to see them everyday! unfortunately we turned up too late to see the visitor centre but i went back another day and fond that it was actually really interesting - it's not just about the canal, there is a lot about the surrounding wildlife and their habitats.

we also visited causeway, which is a man-made causeway that joins together a few islands to the mainland of Panama City - i think it was built with all the rock that they dug out to make the canal. its a nice place, you can rollerskate, cycle etc along it during the day and there are lots of restaurants and shops as well. we visited it in the evening, and saw an amazing view of panama city all lit up against the night sky, it was really beautiful.

for those of you who dont know, i actually came back to England for 10 days to visit family - Ian wasn't bored while i was away though, because Carnaval was here! he and a couple of friends from the hostel travelled to a town a few hours from panama city ( called tablas i think....will check that), where they had a great time! i will hopefully persuade ian to either write about this himself or dictate something to me so you can all hear about it....hopefully soon....
he also went to David and Bocas del Toro....will hopefully get some detail about this too....

anyway, i got back on the 12th February to panama city. we visited the Old town (Cusco Viejo), which as the name suggests is the older part of the city. it's very pretty, with old colonial buildings and much less concrete! aaaaaand......they were filming the new james bond film there!!! there were vans everywhere with the 007 logo, and lights and cameras....unfortunately we didn't see daniel craig tho :( they seemed to be just gearing up to start filming at around sunset when we were leaving....bummer....

right sorry have run out of time on the computer, will write more soon but thats got you up to date up until about 10 days ago! more soon!

Posted by ericurly 12:49 Archived in Panama Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

laid back lifestyle....

all seasons in one day 25 °C

hey everyone, thought i´d better finally blog and let you all know that we´re alive!! sorry for the lack of communications but we've been in paradise on the Corn Islands, Nicaragua. they're 2 small islands in the caribbean, around 50 miles off the coast (i think). we first spent a week on Big Corn, which was cool, stayed at a place called Beach View which was nice, and met up with quite a few other people, who we spent new years with. there was much beer and rum, and a 'club' called nico's which was basically a wooden hut with biiiig coolers full of beer.

weather after new year was terrible, tropical storms etc, it rained for about 3 days, we had no electricity for 24 at one point as well as various other little blackouts....one day we just sat in a restaurant all playing cards allll day. the boats over to little corn were cancelled...one tried to go, travelled for one hour (it should only take under 40 mins for the whole trip) then had to turn back because it was too dangerous. some of the girls on board were hysterical, and did not attempt to make the journey again!! we waited for a few days for it to calm down before we made the journey! before we left, we went to a baseball game on Big Corn - there are several local teams on Big Corn, and then i think little corn just has one team, and they get together every sunday to play in their little league! when we arrived at the game, play was stopped after 2 minutes by heavy rain....dont ya love the caribbean. so they all ran off, and turned the music up, and had a beer (they're fanatical about country and western there for some reason, its terrible), and waited til it stopped. by which time the pitch was flooded. so, one (yeah just one) guy comes out with a broom thingy and starts sweeping water off the pitch, while all the others stand around and scratch their heads and look at the sky, and shout suggestions.....but none of them help. this of course makes the process so slow that it starts to rain again by the time he's finished. luckily its just a very brief light shower so soon the game is in progress again. all in all it was an entertaining afternoon, and a wonderful example of the caribbean attitude...yeah, so it'll take a reeeally long time to do it this way but we're not interested in doing anything any faster. this attitude applies to hotel and restaurant service, taxis, buses, internet, fishing, cleaning.....you name it, they'll take 3 hours about it.

anyway, we headed over to little corn island, which after Big Corn seems so so quiet. there are no cars, no beeping taxis and buses, just bicycles and wheelbarrows.......and just in case you thought about having wheelbarrow-rage, there's speed bumps on the 3-feet-wide path, so no speeding....as if carribeans ever move any faster than a gentle stroll.....

stayed the first two nights in Grace's place on the east side of the village, in a little wooden cabana, but after finding rats running around the room on the second night we moved to Lobster Inn on the other side. this is in the village, and has conrete walls which rats cannot get through, im very glad to say.

right im running out of writing power here, so here's the abbreviated (why is that such a long word?) version of the rest of the time there:

nice hotel, family run, good food, everything very expensive, found cuban restaurant havana libre, amazing food, have the baby beef mmmmmmmmmm, lots of dogs, biiig families, slowwwwwwwwwww, cocounut bread, coconut cookies, coconut candy, no fruit, lots of tacos, not enough hammocks, diving, turtles, caves, tunnels, getting lost on winding paths across the island, reading, bad coffee, lots of fresca, tona beer, fish, fishing, dancing on the beach, swimming, sunbathing, boats, coconut trees, card games, silly hats, geckos, and, and and and.......i could go on all day but i wont.

got the boat back, very calm ride, very glad, got flight to bluefields, 3 hour wait, flight to managua, missed bus to costa rica, crazy dude in bandanna followed us around, found nice hotel with parrots, booked bus for sunday. got kicked out of hotel today cos no room even though they said there was, very annoyed, found nice hostel, and came here!

getting the bus at 8am tomorrow to San Jose, Costa Rica. not spending time in Costa Rica really cos its expensive and we wanna get to panama, have heard good things about it and maybe meeting up with some scottish friends from Big Corn - can you believe it, we go to a tiny island in the middle of nowhere and ian meets one guy from kirkcaldy and another who went to the same school as his brothers in cheltenham. crazy.

aaaaaanyway gotta run, big apologies to anyone that i should have emailed but havent, promise i will catch up with it all soon, honest! sorry for lack of details here and there but there's so much to say!!!

bye for now,

Erica and Ian xx

Posted by ericurly 13:30 Archived in Nicaragua Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Happy New Year

Hey everyone,

Hope you all had a great Christmas, this is just a quick entry to say that we are off to the Corn Islands, hopefully today, if not then tomorrow, and i think internet will be scarce and expensive out there so i probably wont be in contact with anyone much for about a week. so, Happy New Year to everybody!

Also, i put up a few pictures from belize - sorry there arent more but it takes ages to do!

Erica and Ian xx

Posted by ericurly 07:50 Archived in Nicaragua Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

kenyan mutant ninja turtles...

honduras part II - jungle river superheroes

sunny 28 °C

soooooooo......we left Utila. We arrived back in La Ceiba, and Ian had decided he wanted to do some white water rafting. dude we shared a taxi with told us about Jungle River Tours, who had an office at Banana Republic hostel. so off we went, they said right we'll send you up there right now, get in the truck....we're talking a big ex-army truck here. bulletproof, most likely. so off we go, us, two american guys called Lennis and Mark, and another American guy called Tim. we arrived at the lodge, and it was beautiful - right on the river, all very basic and simple but amazing views, the friendliest people, great food, two fab red parrots and the Rio Cangrejal. they went off rafting, but first their instructor Jonny made them swim across the river, climb up some huuuge rocks (like 20 feet high) and then jump off them into the river. then they went down the rapids, stopped for a break, went down some more rapids, had an amazing time. then they returned and told me about this trip......there was a waterfall we had seen just around the corner, higher than us, which fed into the river we were on. (i cannot remember the name, will have to email Tim to remind me) they told us we could hike up to the top of the waterfall, camp overnight, then either climb back down or rapel down the 90 metre waterfall. (its kind of like abseiling, you're on a rope and harness and you let yourself gradually down the waterfall, getting very wet and scared in the process). all this for $50 USD.

so the next day, off we went (me, Ian, Tim and the four guides, Jonny, Darwin, Marvin and Roberto), me feeling extremely apprehensive, the others very excited. we walked along the road to the place where we had to cross the river. i was expecting a bridge. oh no, no bridge. you wade. up to your waist. was not prepared for this. not having big tough feet like ian, i am not equipped for walking across the rocky bed of a fast river barefoot, so i had to keep my boots on. i stupidly rolled my trousers up - as if that helps when you're up to your waist in it....and still needed ian one side and darwin on the other, holding me up. so we got across, all rather wet, then proceeded with the rest of the journey. it's hard to describe the climb if you've never done anyting like it.....I'll just say it was i think the hardest physical challenge i have ever completed - and i completed it only with help from the others.

we reached the top just as dark was falling - tired, wet, bruised and muddy - and found ourselves in a clearing at the very top of the waterfall, with an amazing view across the jungle below us. apparently once we got to the last half hour or so of the climb, we were in cloud forest rather than jungle - something to do with the leaves being larger and the tree cover...im not sure. anyway, the guys started unpacking straight away, lighting a fire, putting up tents, and producing pots, pans, plates and food. suddenly i realised just how heavy their packs had been on the climb - they were amazing, we only carried small daypacks with a change of clothes etc, and they carried all of this!

we sat, slightly dazed, staring out at the view and trying to find dry clothes to wear, until they called us for dinner - the tastiest soup ever, and baked fish - delicious. we ate our fill, and then came the grand finale......roasted marshmallows! no camping experience is complete without them, right? before long it started to rain, and though it was only about 8pm, we were exhausted and could not afford to get our only dry clothes rained on, so we went to bed.

next morning i woke up totally confused, because although it seemed the sun was only just up, my watch said almost 10am. feeling guilty for sleeping so long and wondering why the guides hadnt woken us, i hauled myself out of the tent, and went in search of them. apparently it was only 7am. thats what you get for buying a watch for 5 quid from superdrug i guess.

once again the guys worked their campfire magic, producing porridge and marshmallows for breakfast ( yes mum, thats right, i ate marshmallows for breakfast. sorry) . then we had to face the task ahead. rapelling down the waterfall. i finally got jonny to explain exactly what it was going to involve.....and then chickened out. who was i kidding?? im scared of even climbing ladders!!! so i started to breathe normally again, and the guys got kitted out with their harnesses and helmets, ready to descend. the waterfall is 90m high, and from the top that is a looooooong way down....their ropes (which seemed oh-so-thin) were tied around a very sturdy tree, and ian tied his kenyan flag round his neck like a cape, ready to descend, superhero style! unfortunately due to the backpack underneath it and the helmet, he looked less superman, more teenage mutant ninja turtle. or should that be kenyan mutant ninja turtle? either way, off they went, first jonny and darwin together, then tim, then finally ian (leaving him lots of time to get nervous...nobody likes to go last do they). i think the idea was to go down one side of the waterfall, but ian spent most of his time in it apparently, and missed the ledge halfway down that he was supposed to stop at...anway he said it was awesome - terrifying and cold, but amazing.

they went pretty quickly, and then the remaining two guides at the top with me untied the ropes and we began hiking down. now, hiking up is very hard work, but at least if you slip you're facing the right way to grab hold of something and stop yourself. i slipped whilst hiking down tho...i was holding onto a tree at the time, and clung on for dear life, but then smashed my ribs off the next one. ouch. looked a lot worse than it was tho - knocked the wind out of me and left a nice bruise but no lasting damage. and hey, i think the big bruise on my shin from the hike up wanted some company.

we met up with the others and carried on hiking down to the bottom, by a different route than we'd entered, which led us to straight opposite the lodge. there was still a bloody great river in the way tho. i saw the dingy waiting and thought brilliant, i dont have to get wet this time. but no, that was just for all the equipment. *TIP* never try swimming across a river fully clothed, wearing hiking boots. there's a reason james bond always stops to take his shoes off before he jumps in to save the damsel in distress. I have come to some conclusions. I am not a golden labrador. water is not my element.

So, im sure i have missed loads out, and i know i should've written it as soon as we did it, and i'm sure ian will tell me i didn't tell it right - but to be honest, it was an amazing experience and i'm not really sure anybody could explain it properly. i think you just have to experience it for yourself.....but for those of you that can't, i hope i gave you the general gist of it. oh and for those of you who still dont get it.....there's the dvd! they filmed the whole thing, and we have it on dvd! havent actually had chance to watch it yet, must do that. will try to send a copy home soon.

so, very quick roundup of events since then - went from la ceiba down to Tegucigalpa (capital of honduras), stayed one night there, got the bus next morning to managua (capital of nicaragua), straight from there to Granada, arrived tired, hot and stinky, desperate for a shower. no, there's a water shortage, no water. fantastic. no beds at first hostel, went to a second one, nice place, very clean. stayed the weekend, then on monday went to Isla de Ometepe in lake nicargua. got on wrong bus there, ended up on the wrong side of the island, walked over a mile up a muddy rocky lane in the dark to find the hostel, exhausting. woke up next morning - pretty place but not really what we were looking for. stayed two nights, came back to granada, staying here for christmas. going to the Corn Islands for new year hopefully, looks like paradise, hope its as good as it seems.

will write more about granada soon hopefully, but for now i've really had enough of typing! so adios amigos, and if i dont speak to some of you before the big day then have a very Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!!! wishing you all lots of Christmas cheer and i hope santa brings you everything you wished for!

love from Erica and Ian xxxxx

Posted by ericurly 18:02 Archived in Honduras Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

first impressions are so important....

hola honduras!

sunny 27 °C

hey readers :)

first of all sorry i havent written for a while, but once you´ve read this you´ll realise why! (apologies for any typos, this is a crazy keyboard)

ok where to start? well we left San Salvador, travelled up to the border with honduras, got a taxi to the nearest town, another bus from there up to San Pedro Sula which is the transport hub of honduras - almost every bus passes thru here. we spent a night there, in a delightful place which resembled either a prison or a mental hospital, i couldnt decide which. after we checked in there followed a comic episode where i stood on the bed screaming while ian killed our complimentary cockroach. after that drama, we stared at the depressing grey walls, the grey bars on the window, leading to the grey corridor, and decided to go out for some food. not the nicest place, but we survived and left early next morning to catch a bus to La Ceiba, the coastal citz from which we could catch the ferry across to Utila in the bay islands.

got the bus, got ripped off by the 12 yr old ticket conductor, vowed to learn more spanish to be able to argue, or at least curse him in spanish. arrived in La Ceiba, went to stay in Hotel Caribe as recommended by taxi driver (and also lonely planet book), and planned to get the ferry next day. got our hotel room - top floor, FOUR double beds all to ourselves, TV, thought it was great. no water coming out of the taps or shower in our bathroom tho. we complained, they came and fiddled with pipes, still didnt work so thez unlocked the room next door and said use this bathroom. ok fine, we took showers and went to bed. i woke up at 6.30am to hear ian saying 'Erica, wake up, unplug the fan!!' unplug the fan?? why?? because the floor is covered in 2 inches of water and we'll get electrocuted. oh right....ok good reason.

Ian had woken up to find his sheets damp, thought he'd peed himself - turned out they just slipped to the floor and soaked up the mysterious water. so off he trotted to get the guys to fix it.....they seemed supremely unconcerned. i can kinda see their point...''damned tourists, they wanted water, now they dont want the water....geez make your mind up.....'' Anyway they came and mopped, and moved us to the next room, which was only a little flooded (we felt so honoured), and finally decided there was a burst pipe. no apology or anything. luckily because there were four beds our stuff was on them not on the floor in the puddles so no real damage was done.

so after this chaos we went to get our laundry done - halfway across town, nothing is convenient or fast in La Ceiba except for the food it seems. half an hour before our ferry was due to leave, our washing was still wet. we took it wet, in a bin bag, and dashed to the ferry.

  • *several days later we met some english girls who'd also had a bad experience in a hotel in La ceiba - three people had been shot in the lobby of their hotel the night they arrived. what was the name? yes, Hotel Caribe. two days before we arrived. no wonder they werent too concerned over a burst pipe! and no mum, im not going to get shot, im fine, we're very careful and it was locals that were shot not tourists!**


so we arrived on Utila, and were met by a lovely girl promoting Underwater Vision Dive Center. we went with her, decided to stay at their hotel and Ian decided to dive with them too. nice place, lovelz people, owned by the mayor of the island. Ian did his Advanced Open Water Certificate, which included night diving, nature diving and drift diving. i went along on the boat one day hoping to snorkel but it was too rough so i stayed on the boat and sunbathed while they dived. sounds like he had an amazing time particularly on the night dive which sounded awesome.

Utila itself is a pretty little island, beautiful sea, but not much in the way of beach which was a shame - there was a bit right at the end but it cost to use it so we didnt bother. we chose utila rather than Roatan, the other island, because its cheaper. things were still quite expensive but we enjoyed ourselves anyway. on the thursday night our hotel held its famous barbeque - for around 5 quid you get a big plate of food, and all the beer or rum you can drink. obviously ian and i saw this as a challenge, and were determined to get our moneys worth. we dont quite remember the end of the night, but we think we had a really good time in general!

cinema is becoming a theme here - we found another one but this was definately the quirkiest! you walk in, there's a window in a little wooden house with a lady selling tickets and hot dogs....she sold us our tickets and enquired gently if we realised which film was playing. yes thank you, we realised it was Underdog. Yes, we realised it was a kids film. Yes, we realised we were the oldest people there by about ten years. thank you.
so we ventured up the stairs, expecting to find just a room with a tv and some chairs all facing one direction. instead we found a lovely american guy, a little projector, and rows of wooden reclining seats with matching cushions and holes cut in the arms for zour drinks. it was literally the cutest little cinema i've ever seen. he told all the kids to be quiet or the big kids (me and ian) would eat them, then played the film and stood at the side giggling with the rest of them! was a great laugh!

we stayed for a week, then finally left for the mainland - think thats all for utila - will start a new entry for the next bit!

erica and ian xxx

Posted by ericurly 15:12 Archived in Honduras Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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